ASR has joined more than 75 organisations across six continents to applaud the participants in the WTO Joint Statement Initiative (JSI) negotiations for their “commitment to developing a framework of trade rules to unlock the potential of the Digital 21st Century economy”.
In a multi-association statement the signatories agreed that the JSI negotiations “offer a unique opportunity to reach an international agreement that can help realize the promise of cross-border access to technology and the trusted movement of data across regions”.
Cross-border data flows have been a particular focus of ASR’s e-commerce advocacy in recent years. The statement called for participants to push for an agreement that would “discipline unnecessary or discriminatory data localization mandates and data transfer restrictions” while upholding transparency and interoperability between legal frameworks.
The statement was championed by BSA The Software Alliance and the International Chamber of Commerce.
“COVID-19 has underscored the indispensable role of e-commerce in our lives, and we commend the participating WTO Members for the progress made to date,” said ICC Secretary General John W.H. Denton AO. “We cannot rest on our laurels, however. Achieving clear rules on cross-border data flows will be critical to the success of this initiative, and we hope that our broad-based global coalition of signatories will focus the minds of negotiators on this issue.”
The multiassociation letter may be downloaded at this link.
A second statement on the JSI negotiations was published by the Global Services Coalition, of which ASR is a member. The statement notes that the JSI co-convenors are developing a consolidated text to serve as a foundation for future negotiations, and gives a set of essential inclusions for such a text.
The free flow of data across borders is a key criteria, alongside consumer protection measures, a ban on e-customs duties and new market commitments for e-commerce.
“We fully support your efforts to ensure the JSI negotiations will achieve substantial progress towards a final, high-standard E-Commerce Framework Agreement by the 12th WTO Ministerial Conference,” the statement concludes. “We stand ready to continue our work in support of the negotiations and your outstanding leadership.”
The GSC statement may be downloaded at this link.